Perfect Root Beer Floats

Did you know?….Today is national Root Beer Float Day!
I must make a calendar of every national treat day so we have 365 excuses for celebrating.
There’s not a lot of info on the history of root beer floats.
But I do know this….
It was originally called a Black Cow or Brown Cow in 1893 by Frank Wisner, owner of the Cripple Creek Brewing company in Colorado. He was inspired by the snow capped Cow Mountain and decided that root beer and vanilla ice cream should go together.

Root Beer Floats all around please!

I’m sure your family has a special way of making them.
Here’s what we do at our house…..
Two things are very important: Root Beer and Ice Cream.
But more specifically, we love a few brands of root beer: Stewarts, IBC, Barqs, and any other local or uniquely branded root beer that catches my eye (I’m such a sucker for cool packaging)

As for Ice cream, we love Breyers Natural Vanilla. They make a few other vanillas but Natural is the best, with tiny flecks of vanilla bean throughout.
Then, assemble.

My favorite part of the float is when the ice cream becomes so root beer-saturated that it’s like a slush (or mini milkshake).
So I prefer more ice cream, less root beer.
Sometimes I even make it in a bowl.
Then it’s time to eat, slurp, or spoon your float.
I like to stir.
Our kids use a straw.
Casey lets his “sit” for a while so the ice cream crystalizes.
Either way, it’s a gooey pile of this.
What’s your favorite RBF combo?
I’m always up for a new secret recipe….
Happy Root Beer Float Day!

  1. Mmmm…I’m coming over right now for one of those bad boys! Looks delish! I had a dream about ya last night (in a non stalkery freaky way). It was sooo fun! We finally got to meet at a conference and had a blast! It was like some sort of crafty movie dream…lol. So hilarious. I hope it’s a sign that next year it will come true šŸ™‚

  2. I’d love to know where you get your holidays from! My kiddo/husband are going to be thrilled when I bring home root beer and vanilla ice cream today – THANK YOU!!

    • 3) Judy

      I love to use root beer float ice cream and IBC root beer. But I hate the ice crystals that form! How can I avoid them?

  3. I haven’t had a root beer float in ages! When I was a little girl, we would always go to my grandparent’s house on Sunday afternoon… and a lot of times that would involve a root beer float. There was a local “root beer stand” and we would pick up a gallon of root beer on the way to my grandparents! They sure look delicious!

  4. 6) Becky T

    I like A&W Root Beer (It started in my hometown!) and Thrify’s vanilla Ice Cream. Also the root beer must be cold so it doesn’t melt the ice cream and preferably flat so it doesn’t get all foamy, definitely don’t like that!

  5. 7) Cathy

    In colllege we worked at a camp snack shop and we always put the soda in first, then carefully lowered the scoops of ice cream into the glass. It keeps there from being tons of foam on top.

    • 8) jackie

      Yes, definitely root beer first then ice cream…cuts down on the froth. A cream soda float is also yummy; coke floats, orange soda, grape soda, Cheerwine floats…they are all good.

  6. 9) Angie

    I grew up in Independence Missouri, and there was a place called “Mugs Up” that served root beer in frosty mugs. It was a drive-in, and that was their specialty. They actually still call it a Brown Cow or Black Cow depending on how you order it, brown meaning they add ice cream. Now I’m wanting a root beer float and a trip “home” where I haven’t been in fifteen years.

  7. 10) Carry P

    we always had root beer floats growing up! My dad has always had a major sweet tooth, not to mention salty tooth too. He would spice it up though and make them with Dr Pepper once in awhile. SO good!

  8. ooh yum. I may just have to find some ice cream and root beer for our family night treat tonight. My husband would be so excited!

  9. 13) moesha in mn

    I like root beer floats, but I really love purple cows (grape soda + vanilla ice cream) and, since my husband doesn’t like any soda that’s brown, maybe we’ll make some purple cows tonight as a treat.

  10. How funny…late last night the only thing I really wanted was a root beer float! I must have sensed it was National Root beer Float day!!

  11. In South Africa, a brown cow is a coke float!

  12. 16) Kayla C

    i like to swith it up with orange soda or cherry coke!

  13. 17) Kayla C


  14. Growing up my younger brother was allergic to milk so we would often have a fruity sherbet and sprite instead of root beer floats, we loved them so much! I don’t think my 3 year old has had a root beer float yet so today is a good excuse for an extra treat!

  15. Hmmmm…. I was going to go to Starbucks tonight, but now I am thinking that this very tempting. I’ll see what my boyfriend wants when he comes to visit. Thanks for the awesome pictures and sharing some of this history. šŸ™‚

  16. 21) Jennifer O.

    I recently made peach ice cream and mixed it with root beer. So good. Also great mixed with cream soda.

  17. 22) Sydnie

    I actually did know it was originally called a black/brown cow, ha! Oh, the strange things you learn in design school. I must make my husband one tonight, this is favorite treat.

  18. 23) Zenobia

    I’ll admit, we once made the 4 hour drive to have the best float ever at Fitz’s in St. Louis. They make and bottle their own root beer (and other flavors) and you can order it online. The Sam’s club here is southwest MO sells it as well. Soooo good!

    • Yes, yes, yes!!! We lived in St. Louis for years and enjoyed many, many floats at Fitz’s. Nothing tastes like freshly made root beer. We have seen it occasionally bottled (even as far away as Lubbock, TX), and it is still good, but somehow not the same. Someday I’d love to take my little ones to Fitz’s…

  19. 25) Andrea

    Best little known tip: add a sprinkle of cinnamon (or cinnamon sugar if that is all you have on hand) before you mix it up. It adds a lot of depth to the flavors for some reason! You’ll never make a Root Beer Float without it again!

  20. Root Beer Float Day?! Why have I not heard of this before?! I love celebrating with ice cream and root beer. My daughter will be elated!

  21. mmm … root beer floats are one of my very favorite treats. And as a St. Louis native, I can vouch for what Zenobia said about Fitz’s rootbeer – it is the best! Totally worth ordering online.

  22. 28) Jess

    Did you know that if you were in Australia you’d have to call that a Sarsparilla Spider… Sars’ is the closest thing we have to Root beer and any drink with icecream in fizz is called a spider!

  23. 29) Nicki

    Yum yum… I love root beer floats. Unfortunately, I’m eating dairy-free right now for my poor little 5-month old with a milk allergy. šŸ™ My favorite way to eat a root beer float, however, is one I discovered in college… mix the soft-serve vanilla ice cream with root beer to make kind of a root beer float milkshake. Yum.

  24. 30) Nicki

    Oh, and I forgot… my absolute favorite root beer: Brick Oven, Provo, Utah. YUM.

  25. 31) Anne

    Looks so yum… but. Breyers over Blue Bell in TX? Mmmmm… Blue Bell.

  26. 32) bdaiss

    Ha! That’s the same way I eat mine! More slush than float. But drat. I just had an awesome piece of caramel apple pie (at least it was a la mode with a local Salt Lake City ice cream). The hubby has become a master home (beer) brewer. I think it’s time we try out brewing root beer!

  27. 34) Heidi L

    I love it when the ice cream is really cold and some of the rootbeer freezes on contact and you get little root beer crystals on your ice cream. Yum! Sometimes I even stick the whole thing in the freezer after it is assembled to maximize the frozen rootbeer crystals.

  28. 35) Emily

    We have a good rootbeer in MO at our Orschlien store, called Frosty. It looks pretty old school and it’s a little spicier than an average A&W (which I also love). Walmart (Great Value) actually makes a really good Vanilla Bean ice cream too!

  29. 37) Felicia

    Wow! Didn’t know you could get Stewart’s Root Beer in Texas! Stewart’s is a local ice cream shop/convience store here in upstate New York! Love Root Beer floats with Stewart’s ice cream too!

  30. It’s also key to make sure that the root beer is super cold before you pour it on the ice cream. We always use Barqs and Breyers natural vanilla too! The BEST!

  31. 39) Suzi

    If you’re in Texas, you have to have Bluebell! Have you tried it yet? It’s ice cream heaven.

    Our fam always uses A&W & Bluebell. You can’t go wrong. šŸ™‚

  32. 40) Sara

    I’m curious… have you tried Sarsaparilla? It’s almost like rootbeer… and maybe even more delicious! The brand I’ve always gotten is “Sioux City Sarsaparilla”. I’ve only been lucky enough to find it randomly in gas station coolers, and then screamed bloody joy when I found it in TJMaxx one day! Love, love, love me some “Dana made it!” Oh… I just Googled this brand and this is a blog’s write up on it which actually has pictures of it….


  33. 41) Lauren

    I’m on Sonic’s text list (you get deals every now and then), and I got a text for a FREE root beer float on root beer float day! It wasn’t Breyers, to be sure, but it’s hard to beat free! šŸ™‚

  34. 42) Lindsay

    I actually prefer a Root Beer Freeze to a float. My grandma used to always have them this way. You put the root beer & ice cream together and blend to get an even distribution…I guess it is kind of a shake. I do love when it gets all frosty and has ice crystals throughout.

    Sarsparilla sounds good too. May need to try.

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